Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A December Winter couldn't remember?
  • Confounding climate variables to make December a difficult month for Mid-Atlantic industries relying on snow, and a boon to those who prefer none.
  • Influence of El Nino and a lack of snow cover among other factors, are pointing to above-normal temperatures in the weeks ahead, limiting winter weather potential.
  • Hope for the holidays?  A pattern change and resurgence of cold expected by late December, bringing "wintry outdoor decoration" to interior areas before January.
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Searching for snow in Tahoe. Photo credit: Press Democrat
In 2015, the East is suffering scenes like this one.
5:00 AM EST 12/1 - How many times can you remember having such a mild Thanksgiving weekend in the East, while the midwest and Rockies were ice-bound and shivering?

These are days where, at the onset of meteorological winter, titans of natural northern snow like Jay Peak, Vermont and Sunday River, Maine are barely able to keep just a precious few runs open. If that's how they are fairing, it will be too painful for Powderhounds to bear the truth of southern Mid-Atlantic resorts. Here's a look at what we said about the long range pattern during "Back To The Future Week" in October 2015.

"What IS IT with you, anyway?" 
Welcome to the era of confounding climate variables. On the one hand, Siberian snow
cover in October reached a record extent and depth for the third year in a row - yet Arctic sea ice ranked lower than 2009, 2014 or 2015. While the western U.S. is trapped under a persistent trough/upper level low, eastern North America is facing one of the most snowless starts to the season since 2007. 

We feel that the frustration by Powderhounds at the early winter pattern is best summed up by that one irritated question from Star Trek's Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy in the 1991 film "The Undiscovered Country." 

To be quickly followed by, "When will this turn around?" Here's our quick take on the situation heading into December. 

The good news is, if you're in one of many industries negatively impacted by winter weather, lack of it will make a December that feels heaven-sent. Being able to skate to Christmas without a major event in the East should help round out the annual report, at least in weather-related costs. 

For the snow-yearners, what follows is the barren reality already baked in the cake:

Lastest NOAA Snowcover is, well, lacking in the East.
1) LOCKED IN. North America looks to remain locked in a "western trough, eastern ridge" pattern for at least the next 3 weeks. This is borne out on NOAA long range outlooks, showing a high probability of above-normal temperatures for the northern & eastern parts of the country through 12/22.

2) HEY HO, NO SNOW! Lack of snow cover in northeastern U.S. and southeast Canada hampers an Arctic high from remaining stationary in favored regions so as to enhance cold air supply for developing coastal storms. A warm ground in the northeast as shown on the snowcover map, tends to prevent Highs from hanging around.

3) IT'S ALL ABOUT THE O.. EL NINO. Near-record El Nino has been fueling numerous East Pacific tropical systems the past 2 months, most notably the Category 5 monster that was Patricia. Once making landfall in Mexico, the additional moisture from these storms working into the southern states, juicing up existing surface lows. 

This warm air "advection" influence from the east Pacific not only creates over-performing systems like what we presently in the south, but floods the Eastern pattern with tropical-warmed air. Clear evidence can be seen in the water vapor imagery below:

What's the Plan for December?
  • Temperatures: Expect the trend to go above normal more often than not, although a few cold snaps will mix in from time to time;
  • Precipitation: "Mostly wet and not white" will be the rule for the Mid-Atlantic over majority of December. A small snow event cannot be ruled out, but the environmental conditions and timing will have to be absolutely perfect.
  • A pattern change is anticipated after the 20th, but in order to have a significant snow event on the East coast, a lot of work is needed to build up snow cover in northern states. As you can see from the map above, it'll be a long haul.

What about January and beyond?
  • Between late December and early January, we expect a rapid flip to cold.  By then extent of deep cold air in the Arctic and northern Canada will begin to work south as the Arctic Oscillation is forecasted to turn negative by then. Once it does, we fully expect winter to catch up, with force.

Contributors to this article included Long Range Forecasters Troy Arcomano, Justin Barker, Jason Isaacs, Joey Krastel, Jason Mitchell, Connor Meehan, Mintong Nan and Jacob Smith. 


ravensbbr said...

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winchester3030 said...

Well if Accuweather is saying its gonna warm through January than id say our chances are better than average for cold they are wrong more than not. In my opinion it will be warm through mid month and towards Christmas then after that is pure speculation.